Mike Kueber's Blog

July 3, 2012

The inherent danger in biking

Filed under: Sports — Mike Kueber @ 10:34 pm
Tags: ,

An article in Time magazine this week reports on the war between bicycles and non-bicycles (cars, pedestrians) in NYC.   The article expresses concern that NYC’s loaner-bike program (Citi Bike), which begins this month by placing 10,000 bikes onto NYC’s already congested streets, will lead to increased mayhem and injury. 

Although NYC and its Mayor Bloomberg received lots of national attention for its well-funded program (Citi Bank contributed $41 million and MasterCard another $6.5 million), San Antonio and Mayor Castro are already further down this road, despite its largest donation of only $200k from a private donor.  Our San Antonio B-cycle has been operational for several months.  

The Time article reports that, although some bikers ride irresponsibly, the great majority don’t.  According to one study of bike/car collisions, “nearly 90% of cyclists had been traveling in a safe and legal manner just before the crashes, while vehicle drivers were at fault for more than 80% of the collisions, with the remaining collisions classified as no-fault.” 

As someone who has had two biking accidents in the past few months, I can generally confirm those statistics – i.e., in one case, I was at fault; in the other, I was blameless.  But amongst veteran bikers, there is an old adage that there are two categories of riders – those who have had accidents, and those who are going to have accidents.  Car drivers can drive defensively and have a good chance of avoiding mishaps; not so with biking.  And your chances of getting hurt on a bike are much greater than in a car.  That is why I didn’t appreciate the following comment in the Time article:

  • Even dedicated cyclists like Pucher admit that some of their ilk can be maddeningly mercurial, blowing through intersections and ignoring traffic signs. But it should be pretty clear that a 20-lb. bike is considerably less dangerous than a half-ton car.”

Yes, my chances of hurting someone by hitting them or their car with my bike are slim, but my chances of getting hurt by a half-ton car are almost certain.



  1. Yes, bikes mostly get run over by autos.
    Yes, many bikers DO ignore traffic laws.
    But Mike, you missed the most important part of the article @ NYC: $47.5 million for 10,000 bikes?
    $4,750 per bicycle in the program?
    That’s not green. That’s not exercise. That’s a boondoggle!

    And, keep in mind, San Antonio received stimulus funds, plus grant money for the program from the Energy Department and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for 140 bicycles, plus the contract for maintenance and daily operations to Bike World.
    That is an incredible waste of money. Give them a hammer instead.

    Comment by Bob Bevard — July 3, 2012 @ 10:57 pm | Reply

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